Best Time to Walk the Pennine Way

Officially, the Pennine Way is a year-round hike. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you will have a great time even if you walk the Pennine Way in winter. The Way is a big challenge in itself, and less experienced hikers shouldn’t try to make it more difficult than it needs to be. If you insist on walking the Pennine Way in winter, I recommend checking out my guide to winter hiking.

Weather is one of the factors that make the Pennine Way one of the toughest walks in the UK. To make it easier on yourself, it is best to walk the Pennine Way between May and September. You’ll get a better chance of good weather in summer. You will get better visibility on the trail, as well as more daylight.

However, rainfall and wind are still to be expected this time of year, so make sure to bring high-quality waterproofs and insulating layers.

Abandoned farmhouse

Incredibly hot and dry days are also a possibility. No matter how much water you bring, it may not be enough—especially if you lose your way. Make sure to pack a backpacking water filter as well. Check out our post on packing for the Pennine Way for more information.

Naturally, the Pennine Way is busiest during the summer months. If you don’t plan on camping, you should book accommodation well in advance.

If you want to avoid crowds, but still enjoy relatively good weather, consider hiking the Pennine Way in April, May, or late September. But do know that there is some risk of snow in early spring, and the visibility on the trail is not so great in fall.

The weather on the trail becomes worse in October, so you would want to complete your hike by then. Many shops and B&Bs are closed from late fall to early spring. And when winter comes, the stone-flagged sections get covered in ice.

So, how come the Pennine Way is considered a year-round trail? Each year, there are a few hikers who dare to hike the Pennine Way in winter.

But, if you have never been on a long-distance winter hike, and camped in a tent in below-freezing temperatures, this is not a great idea. To complete the Pennine Way in winter, you need to be extremely fit, possess superb navigational skills, and have the appropriate gear.

Other FAQs About the Pennine Way

Is Wild Camping Permitted on the Pennine Way?

Aerial shot of Derbyshire

Unless you get permission from the landowner, you cannot set up a wild camp in England, wild camping is allowed over most of Scotland. Every chunk of land in the country is owned by someone, and getting formal permission to pitch your tent outside of a designated campsite can be a hassle.

Because of this, many wild campers choose to ignore this law when hiking the Pennine Way, and the vast majority get away with it without any problems. Worst case scenario: you’ll simply be asked to pitch your tent somewhere else.

In fact, wild camping is quite popular on the Pennine Way. If you want to wild camp on the Pennine Way, try to stick to these unwritten rules:

  • Leave no trace
  • Don’t be noisy
  • Don’t make campfires
  • Don’t camp near gates
  • Leave early in the morning
  • Don’t camp in larger groups

Is the Pennine Way Easy to Navigate?

The Pennine Way isn’t the easiest trail to navigate, despite the fact that there are over 400 signposts along the trail. Moreover, cell reception is lousy on some sections on the trail, so don’t rely on your phone for navigation.

You should bring a map and a compass as well as a GPS device. Make sure to bring a guidebook as well. The official Pennine Way guide includes OS maps of the surrounding areas as well as of the trail.

How Long Does It Take to Complete the Trail?

Jacob's Ladder, Pennine Way

You should be able to complete the trail in two weeks if you are reasonably fit. But, if you want to make the most out of your walking holiday in the English countryside, plan to spend around three weeks on the trail.

Consider spending an extra day or two in the following places:

  • Hebden Bridge
  • Haworth
  • Hawes
  • Middleton-in-Teesdale
  • Alston
  • Bellingham

What Are Some Good Alternatives to the Pennine Way?

Hadrian's Wall in autumn

Other popular long-distance walks in the UK include:

Where Can I Find Accommodation?

You can find a list of accommodation options on the official website on the trail. Accommodation is limited in some areas, so it’s best to book your accommodation in advance.

On some sections of the trail, camping is the best option. There are many designated campsites along the Pennine Way. But, again, many hikers prefer wild camping.

Check out this post if you want to know more about the Pennine Way. We also have a guide to eating on the Pennine Way and a guide on how to plan for the Pennine Way.

How Difficult Is the Pennine Way?

The Pennine Way may indeed be the toughest of all the National Trails. The walk has a reputation for unpredictable weather and long days, Moreover, there’s plenty of wild moorlands and lots of hills.

The Pennine Way is challenging on both a physical and mental level, so it requires a good amount of preparation.

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